I’m driving my way across South Dakota and, due to a time change, had ample time to visit one of the landmarks near the Black Hills. Passing on Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse project was not easy, but I love the Badlands. So imagine that you are a Lakota Sioux, and your people have been living on these grasslands for about the last 11,000 years.
All all of a sudden, the Earth changes course and you see this:
Mako Sica is Lakota for “Land Bad.” Trappers and pioneers shared their sentiments. They found the area to be incredibly hard to travel through, there was little water, and the weather could be extreme. They called it the Badlands.
The erosion of the rock is millions of years old, and parts of the park were, at one time, under water. The age and erosion has created a mecca for paleontology. The evolution of native horses and dogs can be traced by studying the fossils discovered here.
The Lakota may have viewed the land as “bad,” but they respected it and found it to be useful. They held spiritual ceremonies here. And since the grassland came right up to the formations, they could live on its edges and survey from the vistas for game and evidence of enemies. If hunting was plentiful, they would stay until winter’s migration along the Missouri River to the east.
There is a loop drive that allows the visitor a quick glimpse of this geological history. Too soon I was back on the highway, headed to Montana. I sure hope to come back again with no other place I have to be anytime soon.